Murder twist in insurance scam case

2013-02-05 00:00

A BERGVILLE funeral parlour owner caught up in a lucrative life insurance scam was murdered a day after police arrested four people in connection with the plot.

Faith Msibi’s body was found on Sunday at about 8 pm in Driefontein near Ladysmith with a bullet wound behind her left ear.

Police said yesterday the motive for her killing was unknown and the matter was still being investigated.

Msibi (46) owned the local Mthumeni funeral home, which was allegedly used by a criminal syndicate to swindle R3 million out of an insurance company.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said four suspects were arrested in connection with the scam by the Durban Commercial Crime Unit on Saturday.

Msibi was not among them and police declined to reveal the extent of her role. The names of the insurance companies were also not disclosed. The suspects are still in custody waiting for their first court date. They cannot be named until they appear.

It is alleged the group lodged a successful fraudulent claim of R3 million, which was paid out on the life of a man in October last year. Soon after that, they allegedly lodged another claim of R3 million with a second company.

The second one was not paid out and raised suspicions with the company and police investigators.

Police arrested a 34-year-old man at his house in Winterton, and a 66-year-old man in Esandlwana area in Bergville. Both were claimants.

A 47-year-old man, who posed as the deceased’s brother, was arrested thereafter and a taxi driver (51), believed to have facilitated a bogus funeral and who even bought a coffin, was also nabbed by authorities.

“During the investigations, members discovered that the Nene family in Bergville at the Mazizini area buried their son, Themba Nene, in March of 2011, but they could not register his death because the funeral parlour that conducted the burial informed the family that their son’s identity document was missing,” explained Zwane.

In January last year, the Nenes got a surprise visit from an employee of the funeral home informing them that Themba’s identity document had been found, and that a death certificate would be issued the following day.

The same employee returned with the death certificate and identity document. Enclosed was R15 000, allegedly to compensate them for the inconvenience they suffered, said Zwane.

But the family was shocked to find that the date of death on the certificate was September 2012, more than a year after his death.

“The detective’s investigations revealed that the ‘missing’ identity document was [used to take out] two life cover policies from two different insurance companies to the value of R6 million. Those two policies were taken out after Themba Nene was buried. In October 2012, the first claim of R3 million was made and it paid out,” he said.

Trevor White, a partner responsible for forensic services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the economic slump was contributing to rampant fraud in the insurance industry. “We are in a time where honest people will overstep some boundaries,” he said.

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